New York Guv's Game Scare Presentation Cites Hoax Site as "Resource"

December 19, 2007 -

In New York, efforts to legislate video game sales have bogged down in the wake of bitter political infighting between Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R).

While the legislative effort remains stalled, the New York Department of Criminal Justice (!) has produced a 20-minute slide show which, in addition to offering some good advice to parents, dredges up a number of sensationalized stories, presents at least one outright fallacy, and cites a well-known Internet hoax site as a parental resource. 

As reported by the Staten Island Advance, Gov. Spitzer unveiled Video Games and Children: Virtual Playground vs. Danger Zone yesterday, accompanied by representatives from the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Said Spitzer of the 20-minute presentation:
 

Protecting our children from violent video games that contain adult themes is a key priority for my administration. I commend the staff of the DCJS and Commissioner Denise O'Donnell for taking a leadership role in this effort by reaching out to parents and educators to engage them in this important dialogue. This presentation gives parents and educators the information they need to make smart decisions about the games their children play.


While the presentation offers some wothwhile - if standard - advice about ratings and other parental issues, it quickly devolves into sensationalism. V-Tech Rampage, for example, gets prominent mention early in the presentation. For those who may not recall that sorry episode, V-Tech Rampage was a crude, non-commercial game created and posted online by an apparently troubled young man from Australia who gained his 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the Virginia Tech massacre. What does it have to do with parents making video game choices for their children?

The presentation also includes clips from a well-known Australian TV video of a supposed teenage World of Warcraft addict. There is also an ominous mention of an unnamed 13-year-old Chinese lad who is said to have thrown himself from the roof of a building in an effort to join his video game heroes.

We were also troubled by the somewhat random selection of games presented as bad examples. For instance, the video makes much of Soldier of Fortune's realistic body damage model. SoF, however, was released seven years ago. Relevance, please?

The presentation also mentions that Virginia Tech killer Seung Hui Cho was reportedly a player of Counter-strike. However, the Virginia Tech Review Panel's report clearly states that no such evidence was found. The only game mentioned by the blue ribbon panel in relation to Cho is Sonic the Hedgehog.

First-person shooters are referred to as "killographic" games. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is misstated as "Grand Theft San Andreas." How does one botch what is probably - thanks to Hot Coffee - the most infamous game title of all time?

And, as the presentation ends, a resource page lists Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence as one of several places where parents can go for additional information. 

Oops!

MAVAV is a well-documented hoax site, created, ironically, by a student from a New York City design school.

In the end, poor research makes Gov. Spitzer's well-intentioned video look amateurish and out of touch.

UPDATE: Albany's WNYT-13 has a report on the release of the New York video.

Comments

"In the end, poor research makes Gov. Spitzer’s well-intentioned video look amateurish and out of touch. " is an understatement. it makes him look like a total baffoon.

"Protecting our children from violent video games that contain adult themes is a key priority for my administration."

and how is he planning on micromanaging 1 million+ households? does he plan on doing the same thing for movies,TV,books, magazines, comic books and all forms of media? maybe he can create a total media blackout with his power. maybe everything should be approved by the government before it can be published. maybe we can raise taxes to cover this totalitarian government... or maybe parents can take responsibility for their own children. i'm so glad i vote for myself every year so i'm not responsible for electing these jackasses.

What a major piece of garbage. They only want video games to be educational. Why can't they leave things alone. The part with the kid seems so staged its laughable.

@ Nightwing

Your post on the Staten Island article finally went through. It was very well thought out and informative. I am ashamed. :( Mine was rushed this morning as I was getting ready for work. But at least I got the link here.

Thanks for the great posts. I really enjoy them.

Still ignoring the fact that more adults than kids play video games.

If I was a New York state resident, i'd be pissed that my tax money was wasted on this shit. Eliot Spitzer is just another jackass moron Governor like Blagojevich and his anti-gaming campaign will fail just like his did, wasting even more taxpayers money in the process. New York voters need to kick this dip shit out in the next election.

I'm just curious, anyone know the median age of gamers?

Where in the hell did they get their numbers?

@Shaesyco

Up there asses like most idiots like them ;) .

@ Matt Paprocki

It is worth noting that Thrill Kill was never released.

@ broken scope

I don't know the exact number, but it's somewhere in the 30s.

that video made me want to try the games they were talking about.

broken scope, according to the latest numbers from ESA, it's 33.

The average age of a game buyer was somewhere in mid 40s, if I remember correctly.

@Broken scope
It's 33 years old.

@Yorick and JJmug
Nice to see fellow western new yorkers here too.

Oops, 2 minutes late.

@ GoodTimeToBeAnonymous

Ah... I knew there was a reason I never played it.

See people? That's what you do when you don't like a game. YOU DON'T PLAY IT. If you don't want your kids playing it... DON'T BUY IT FOR THEM and DON'T GIVE THEM THE MONEY TO BUY IT.

And if they're still playing it under your noses... become a better parent - that's YOUR job, not the government's.

@ vellocet

That makes too much sense and it takes actually effort.

People like him remind me of the Party in 1984. They keep saying a lie until it is accepted of the truth.

Can anyone find me a link to those numbers?

@ Broken scope

Here you go:

http://www.theesa.com/facts/top_10_facts.php

Here is another great one to look at:

http://www.esrb.org/about/categories.jsp

@ Broken scope

Here is the full report from the ESA. I linked the overview before:

http://www.theesa.com/archives/files/Essential%20Facts%202006.pdf

Thanks EZK, forgot about those links. Like the top 10 facts.

@ the article:

If you're going to dispute SoF's relevance due to the game's 2000 release date, why not reference the Death Race 2000's relevance? Or Mortal Kombat II's relevance? Those are much older games than Soldier of Fortune...

Because the slideshow (as misinformed as it was in most instances) was showing a timeline of the evolution of violent games, and SoF being a VERY violent game for it's time, was completely relevant to the topic being discussed.

And while the video certainly had its glaring faults (sensationalism, staged interviews with "child gamers" etc) I see the overall point of it. I fail to see how the rest of you don't. The point I got from the video is that there ARE violent video games (true statement, albeit an obvious one) and there is info parents need to know in order to better regulate their children's gaming habits (also a true statement, although a lot of people are completely ignorant to that fact).

In no way did I see this as a call to ban violent video games-- just a call to parents to be more proactive in their children's lives, although the misinformation stated within is certainly detrimental when you consider what could happen when ignorant people get a hold of it...

Do some of you honestly believe there shouldn't be a regulation on games? I in no way agree with the notion of banning sex & violence in games, but it does disgust me to hear 11 year olds talk about how much they love f**king prostitutes then killing them in GTA. They aren't supposed to watch rated R movies-- they shouldn't be allowed to play rated M games. If they are doing so, it should fall on the parents' heads as well as the companies directly selling these kids access to the media (i.e. stores/ blockbuster/ whatever). Game developers should NOT be held responsible for the actions of others, nor should they be punished for the irresponsible and uneducated decisions made by some parents...

Aye, I've seen all of those before, i've read that before. However they never once show us the actual MEDIAN age, not the MEAN the median.

The age that separates the top half of the population from the lower half.

It is somewhere between the 18 and 49 years.

@demon

i do honestly believe there should be no regulation on games (that is not self imposed), the problem with adding a government regulation is the fact that it's blatently unconstitutional to give weight of law behind the ESRB (can't give governmental power to a private organization) and to regulate it without using the ESRB means having to actually define what violence is and is not acceptable, which leads to exceedingly vague language that can result in just about any game being deemed too violent depending on how you look at it

should the later (which is the most likely to happen as i doubt they are going to change the constitution for this) the chilling effect on the gaming industry would be horrendous, in the sense that developers would be so afraid of being taken to court over cartoon violence that many games would end up being horribly self censured to the point of being ridiculous

i agree that 11 year olds should not be playing GTA, but that is a decision that is up to each individual parent, and the fact that a child could go into a store and possibly buy the game (assuming he manages to get a ride to get down there and has the $50-$60 burning a hole in his pocket) the doesn't mean that the parent is incapable of stoping him from playing the game, as the parents can always turn off the console and take the game away if they don't approve of the content

@Demon

Using fear to "educate" is not a valid tactic and shouldn't be encouraged, no matter how long and hard people want to argue that the end justifies the means. Telling people (in so many words) that allowing your children to play videogames makes them fat, violent, foul-mouthed killers is not responsible education. Misinforming the public (here is a respectable source Web site, that horrible Cho person played these games, etc.) to press your point is not acceptable. There may indeed be some good information and advice mixed in with the sensationalism, but if the good information and advice IS good information and advice, why the sensationalism and misinformation? Why couldn't they have produced thoughtful, well-informed pieces that stay away from the hate and simply do what they claim to- educate? You (or at least, I) can't let something like this go simply because there are some good points along with the bad. Is it ok to nuke a neighborhood because there was one serial killer living there? Politicians, government agencies and the like MUST be pushed to provide accurate, fair, and reasonable information to the public. Not doing so is tantamount to giving our permission to feed us garbage without restraint.

@ Broken scope

That is something that always seems to be missing. My guess is that it is in the high 30s to the low 40s.

@ Demon

I don't think anyone is really arguing against the message of the video, just the presentation.

You could tell people to stop smoking because tests have shown an increased risk of getting lung cancer. Or you could tell people to stop smoking because if you don't aliens are going to abduct you and eat you as a jerky treat.

Which is the better presentation to get the message of stop smoking out there? Which one is more believable?

What we are getting at is that the governor regardless of his noble intention is basically enciting panic in the populous, when all he has to do is tell people there are ratings on the games and to read and follow them.

@ Tony Selby:

I completely agree-- my thoughts on regulation are more in line with film regulations-- thus my comparison to rated R films. I would've elaborated more, but my post was long enough already :)

@Saint13:

Once again, I whole-heartedly agree with you. The misinformation is absolutely unacceptable, especially on such an important topic. I could have elaborated more, but after reading some of this article's comments, I felt that people were looking at the video as a call to ban violent games and only make educational ones. Sorry I was misleading in my previous post.

@ EZK:

you're right, on a whole, people weren't looking at it as such. I did read a couple comments to that effect, though, so I felt the need to mention it. Once again, sorry I was misleading :(

God help me... I feel like I know less about video games after watching that tripe.

I couldn't help but laugh when I heard the resources section though. I never heard of that site before myself, but it is either very believable, or people are just stupid.

I'm confident that the WoW interview was fake, there is no way that could be true.

Also, why don't they talk about more um, ya know, RECENT games. MKII? Thrill Kill (never even released)?? Soldier of fortune 1??? Bully is already over a year old too, ya know. And San Andreas isn't an AO game in itself, only the pre-hot coffee ones are.

Overall, an unprofessional and poorly researched piece of garbage. Can I have my 20 minutes back, please???????

I want that time back so I can go play a "killographic" game instead.

*In a dumb, stiff voice like in the presentation*

For example:Doom
Wolfenstein 3d
Soldier of fortune

*breaks free*

Oh crap, its gotten into my head. Save yourselves!!! Don't watch this!!!

I have an idea, oy. Let's find his email address so we can totally spam his inbox with embarassing corrections! Wouldn't that be AWESOME?!

@ EZK

I'm with you in hoping (fervently) that those comics on MAVAV are part of the hoax, casue if not, some games are as bad as these ignorant politicians =S

Also could you post a link to the Staten Island Advance article thingy. I had a quick look but I couldn't find it.

@ ConstantNeophyte

Its up there. Third Paragraph first line. Hard to miss.

ok I have fully watched the video in the link. and I also truly believe I lost thousands of brain cells watching it due to the facts that

1. holy crap so many steriotypes I almost cried

2. it was so dramatic (see the first part where the kid was talking about the video game)

2b. wow I wonder what game that was? To me it didn't even sound Grand Theft Auto it sounded more like some that would be titled MEGA HELL DEATH CHALLENGE PART ! : DISCRIMINATE AND DESTROY!!!1!!!

3. After a while I lost count of how many lies I heard in this video too. It was just horrible.

Also after watching I got some thoughts like "what I just watched,......was this some kinda parody or serious? O_O; " but the part at the end did make me laugh a bit.

@ EZK

*turns red* opps, my bad *headdesk*

@ EZK & nightwng2000

Between the two of you the article actually comes of as balanced now.

@broken scope:

well pick up the nearest one and type in '80085'. See? Even calculators promote pornography!

Though on a more serious note, I'm still trying to figure out how he trained to kill on Sonic the Hedgehog. Unless they meant Shadow the Hedgehog, but then that wasn't a very good game.

5 minutes at any major video game website would give them all the correct info on all the games mentioned.

Once again Elliot Shitzer shows just how big of a fucktard he really is, along with every other New York politician.

I use to be against swearing, at least explicitly, on here but I just can't take it anymore. If this was 150 years ago they'd be taken out into the streets and lynched by angry mobs for their incompetence. Or at least forced from office.

Goddamn this country has gotten soft. Especially over the last 40-50 years.

/facepalm, smacking head into his desk repeatedly.

Ok. I just finished watching the whole thing.

What the crap was that video at the end? That was the absolute worst thing I ever saw.

Again, I continue to be handed more and more Justification for my proposal that the industry sue the fucking pant of anyone who doesn't due there research and Guv spitzer just won the fucking prize in that catagory.

If the industry was smart they would demand a national public apology right now and threaten a massive lawsuit if he didn't comply.

You all think i'm an extremeist. Guess what, looks like Spitzer proved me right!

Nothing new. That whole part with would you want your child to play this? Of course I knew it was Hitman and I wouldn't let my child (if I had one) play that or GTA or any other M rated until I deemed that they are mature enough. That is what a responsible parent would do.

As a side note did any notice that when discussing the ESRB ratings that they put the E rating on the same slide as the M rating?

@ EZK

Yeah what the hell was that at the end. Something to demonstrate addiction? Really you think mentioning an ill minded person killing themselves to 'join' their videogame heroes was enough. Would any sane man do that?

I feel sorry for NY citizens, many tax dollars wasted on an abomination that looked like it was done by a pre-schooler.

[...] GamePolitics has a pretty good rundown of the many holes in this video. While some solid tips for non-gaming parents are presented in the end, most of the 20-minute slideshow reeks of misinformed sensationalism and cheesy PowerPoint animations. [...]

@Demon
"Do some of you honestly believe there shouldn’t be a regulation on games? I in no way agree with the notion of banning sex & violence in games, but it does disgust me to hear 11 year olds talk about how much they love f**king prostitutes then killing them in GTA. They aren’t supposed to watch rated R movies– they shouldn’t be allowed to play rated M games. If they are doing so, it should fall on the parents’ heads as well as the companies directly selling these kids access to the media (i.e. stores/ blockbuster/ whatever). Game developers should NOT be held responsible for the actions of others, nor should they be punished for the irresponsible and uneducated decisions made by some parents…"


I hope you realise that RIGHT NOW it is far far EASIER for a LITTLE KID to get an R rated or Unrated movie then an M rated game???

Which is the real problem with the game violence debate... Why is there one??? One would think that the focus should be on what is easier to get...


The game industry is not selling games to kids, they created the rating system of their own free will to make certain of that... Major store chains ARE so why should the debate attack the industry that is NOT responsible???? I don't see anyone blaming best buy for kids playing Manhunt 2, they blame rockstar which is ridiculous...

It would be like blaming the makers of hostel for wallmart selling an unrated edition to some kid...

@Demon

"Do some of you honestly believe there shouldn’t be a regulation on games? I in no way agree with the notion of banning sex & violence in games, but it does disgust me to hear 11 year olds talk about how much they love f**king prostitutes then killing them in GTA. They aren’t supposed to watch rated R movies– they shouldn’t be allowed to play rated M games."


Yes, most uf us honestly believe that there shouldn't be a regulation on games, just as there is not a regulation on movies. You do know there is no regulation on movies right?

addendum

"I completely agree– my thoughts on regulation are more in line with film regulations"

So you also think there should be no regulation on games, as movie regulations DON'T EXIST.

>There is also an ominous mention of an unnamed 13-year-old Chinese lad who is said to have thrown himself from the roof of a building in an effort to join his video game heroes.

i think it refers to Animatrix scene where kid leaves the matrix by throwing himself from the roof of his school (an animation, not a videogame).

[...] Originally reported by the Staten Island Advance, GamePolitics breaks down the slide show piece by piece. GP says that the non-commercial V-Tech Rampage — actually created by an Australian — gets prominent mention; the presentation also includes a sensationalist clip from Australian television of a teenage World of Warcraft addict. Neither example serve to assist parents in making game purchasing decisions for children based on ratings. There are many more issues with the presentation, but it culminates with a resource page listing Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence — only problem is that MAVAV is a hoax site created by a student from a New York City school. So take heart, governor, video games can’t be all bad. They’re at least making kids smart enough to fool politicians. [...]

did you see my little timmy at the start of that video? isnt he a little angel? i bought him Gta because he said it was swell and rated M for most awsome thing ever and he could never lie i obviously dont give a shit about what my child does whether he's killing whores or police officers its all ok with me

Listen up people if you watched the slideshow you saw that kid was 6 yrs old...max his parent got him that game he didnt walk to bestbuy magicly make $60 and then convince a store clerk to sell it to him his mom and or dad waltzed on in and picked it up for him

oh and when they can use examples from a real game(made by the corporations their sueing) thats isnt Gta then i might give them a couple of seconds to voice their opinion before i just start laughing

Whats this? their picking on halo? thats one of tamest first person shooter out their...

notice how in their precentage groups they dont say what ages...they just say kids meaning 17 and down who wants to bet that they asked a bunch of 17yr old gamers lol

then they snap at WoW? wow has a fucking parental control feature right out in front which give you 100% control of what times they can get on...how much more do you idiots want?

favoite quote ="whats is violent? What effect does violent games have on children" .....and your the ones saying were stupid? what effect do...do! not does.

compairing video games to smoking...hmm 1 kills you and everyone around you one=easy going activity

playing video games makes you think the world we live in is dangerous and crime ridden.....uh...hm...er...it is, are you out of your minds?

and that too much screen time too much kid thing at the end was just plain mean not to us..but to fat people lol wtf? changing horses mid stream much?

well i guess thatts enough for now lol

Looks like the video has been pulled; I get a 'Not Found' when I try to go to the link provided...
 
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